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DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – Friends and family are focusing on the life of David Stevens, rather than his death.

Stevens, 53, lived in the Dallas suburb of Sunnyvale with his wife Patti.  Neighbors describe the pair as active and avid cyclists.  Stevens was also an avid runner. Monday morning, he was on the White Rock Creek Trail in Lake Highlands, when police say a man stabbed him to death, in what investigators are calling a random attack.

Former Texas A&M football player confessed to the crime, according to police reports. He remains in jail, on $500,000 bond, charged with murder.

Those who knew Stevens are trying to comprehend the senseless crime.

George Woodrow lives next door to the Stevens in the Deer Creek neighborhood of Sunnyvale. “He was a fine gentleman. The neighborhood is in shock and grief about what happened,” said Woodrow.

He remembers Stevens as quiet and kind.  Someone who helped him with his dog, and even offered gardening advice. “I read [the news] in the paper first and was thinking, ‘How tragic’. Not knowing it was my neighbor,” said Woodrow, who added that his wife and other neighbors are hoping to offer comfort to Stevens’ widow at this time.

Patti Stevens, David’s widow, shared her husband’s picture and this statement with CBS 11 News:

“This is a horrible, senseless tragedy and we are devastated with the loss of such a wonderful man. It has created a huge hole in our hearts. As his family and friends begin to grieve, we would appreciate being given our privacy during this most difficult time.”

Stevens was an engineer, who worked for General Electric in Plano, as well as a company bought by GE for a total of 29 years. He was also a talented inventor; part of a team of North Texas engineers who developed patents.

Gia Oei, a spokesperson for GE, sent this statement:

“Last night (Oct. 13) we learned from police that one of our longtime engineers, Dave Stevens, who works at our Plano facility, was murdered on Monday (Oct. 12). We are shocked and deeply saddened by this news. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Dave’s family, friends and coworkers. For our employees, we are providing a grief counselor as well as assistance for Dave’s family to help them through this difficult time.”

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Jennifer Lindgren